My LilSis has just moved to live in Japan for a year, and I've just got permission to share a few quirks of her experiences!
From her first email..
Our apartment is great - quite big by Japanese standards and very sensibly laid out. Everything's a bit small (we touch the doorways when we have bed hair and the sink's about at knee height) but otherwise it's great. We may not stay here for the whole year, but we'll settle in for a bit and then work out what we want then. The neighbourhood is great - really quiet, gorgeous houses, tiny little backstreets and heaps of tiny little 'aka chochin' (literally, 'red lantern'- small local bars) which we'll visit as soon as we can competently say more than just 'can I have a beer'. Speaking of language - it's (as predicted) proving a bit difficult, but we're coping. Probably the trickiest moment was trying to explain 'de facto' to the people organising our Alien Registration Card at the local city hall. We're going to start lessons soon so hopefully that'll help.
We went to the second-hand bike shop on the corner and managed to communicate sufficiently with the very resourceful old lady who ran the shop to buy an bright blue bike for J (I suggested we call it Icehouse but we've settled for Electric Blue) and a bottle-green 'cruiser' for me (name yet to be determined). I plan on cruising the 10 mins to work every day on said slick vehicle We're off to Kyoto on our day off together today and are hoping that the cherry blossom (which is a source of much excitement amongst the locals at the moment - the bureau of meterology had to apologise for predicting the first blooms incorrectly) will be on show. We're staying in a Ryokan (Japanese Inn) in central Kyoto tomorrow night after a lot of temple-gazing and (hopefully) some very good food. In other news, I missed our first earthquake. Whoopsie. Everybody else felt it but I missed it thanks to being on a bus at the time. Apparently the lights were swinging at our place, but no falling items etc. The epicentre was a good 150km from here, so nothing serious.
- musical garbage trucks (hilarious)
- karaoke game shows
- game shows more generally
- little displays in train carriages which give you a little graphic of the train and it's current speed
- trains more generally
- sumo competitions on tv
- strawberry and chocolate bagels
- cheap cool izakayas (japanese bars)
- tuna sashimi
- Shop 99 (the 99 yen convenience store near our station - brilliant)
- cheap, excellent food
- accidentally catching an outdoor performance by SMAP - japan's preeminent boyband
Minutiae: Less awesome
- insane garbage sorting and collection protocols
- no predictive text on phones (I'm averaging about 10 mins per sms/email)
- open sewers
- musical garbage trucks (when sleep is being attempted)
- everything is sweeter. lemonade is undrinkable, bread is weird
- enormous genetically modified fruit
- 2manydjs going to Tokyo and Osaka but not Nagoya
- and not being able to get to Osaka because of work
Minutiae: just odd
- very very popular band called...Mr Children